If We Can You Can: Ad Hoc Academic

Jody Nichols and Andrew Broadhead

If We Can You Can: Ad Hoc Academic

Jody Nichols is one of the founders of Ad Hoc Academic, a programme that connects universities with academic staff. We find out about what the business does, and why Jody has entered it into this year’s If We Can You Can competition.

What did you do before setting up your business?

I was an academic and researchers for the NHS and University of Sunderland with a specialist interest in public health and obesity.

Andrew ran his own marketing and sales company; he also did Ad Hoc lecturing for a University in London and has a keen passion for education

What inspired you to set up your business?

We both wanted to make a difference and we both wanted to improve academic standards. We saw an opportunity to create something amazing and exciting and we look the leap together.

What makes this business different?

Our product is a disruptive product; nothing like it exists on the market today.

Ad Hoc Academic improves academic standards by connecting Universities with professionals and temporary academic staff.

Our system does this in two ways:

Firstly Universities & institutions are prone to ’silo’ working and don’t even know the skills they have available within their own institutions and they aren’t sharing those skills between faculties and departments. Our system allows universities to breaks down silo working and utilise their own staff more effectively, embracing lean methodologies.

Secondly, by using Ad Hoc Academic universities & institutions also get access to more available candidates than they were selecting.

What inspired you to enter the If We Can You Can Challenge?

A few of my colleagues at Entrepreneurial Spark in Newcastle have had some really positive things to say about the challenge and suggested it might be a good idea for us to enter.

Where do you see your business in three years’ time?

By September 2020 I see our business being integrated into over 105 universities nationally with a turnover of £1.6m, and with an integrated sales and management team.We will also be branching out into universities within the USA and Canada.

What has been the most rewarding part of your journey so far?

This is difficult to answer, I think the journey as a whole has been inspiring but something that really jumps out is designing and developing our MVP and getting to market within a 6-month period.

What has been your biggest challenge?

That’s an easy one…TIME and MONEY.

But I guess one of the biggest personal challenges for me was balancing developing a business, working part time, finishing my PhD and being a good mum… everyone needs balance.

Who/what gave you support or advice?

We are currently involved with Software Centre who have helped us to write our wire frame and access a desk space. BIC in Sunderland have allowed us to access the innovation fund giving us a 40% grant for the MVP product as well as general advice

University of Sunderland Enterprise place have given us advice and guidance around marketing and sales

Entrepreneurial Spark Newcastle – Have given us access to networks, investors and hot desking should we need it

What advice would you give to someone looking to set up their own business?

Go for it, do your research and go for it!!

Also we have two ears and one mouth…listen listen listen and listen again before you speak. I have found this so valuable developing my own business.